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Minimalist Wardrobe Clothing Essentials

Sustainable Fashion

Last Updated on March 3, 2022

Creating your own personal minimalist wardrobe is easy, cost effective, and trendy. You’ll just need a few basic clothing essentials to get started.

While the fashion industry is constantly changing designs and trends, having the right wardrobe staples will provide you with many years of wear. We will explain how to choose zero waste fashion that works for you and give you a list of clothing essentials you won’t want to go without.

minimalist wardrobe

Do you ever feel like you are drowning…in stuff?

Been there, done that! I decided it was time to clean up and stick with basic fashion staples that won’t explode out of my closet every time I open the door.

Having tons of clothes used to be something I got excited about. Why? It was expensive, I was always worried about what I was wearing, and I didn’t need that much stuff.

Guess what, you can still look good while limiting the number of items you keep in your closet. That’s where these wardrobe essentials for women come in handy.

why you should consider a minimalist wardrobe

  • You’ll save money.
  • It’s easy to organize.
  • You’ll have much less stress when deciding what to wear.
  • You’ll be positively impacting the environment.

how to create a minimalist wardrobe

step 1: figure out your fashion style

The first step is figuring out what *you* really like.  

Narrow down your personal style. Do you love chic, vintage, prep, bright colors, solids, prints, earth tones or any other style?

Whatever you decide on, you need to feel confident and good about yourself. This is supposed to save you stress… not cause you more!

Once you have a game plan in place, it’s much easier to make purchases that fit your style and become clothing essentials for you.

step 2: how many wardrobe staples do you need

It’s going to vary from person to person, but you’ll need to dig deep and be practical. Do you honestly need 3 bathing suits or can you get by with one?

Consider what you need for work, casual wear, and the different seasons. For most of us, you can get by with somewhere between 15 – 45 clothing pieces. You’ll need to decide what is going to work for you.

step 3: get rid of old clothes

Now it’s time for my least favorite part.

I’ve dealt with the guilt of giving away clothes that were gifts.

And, just because you loved something doesn’t mean you still love it.

Thank it for the time you had with it, and move on. It was such a freeing experience. Check out my article dealing with the guilt of stuff for more on that.

I recommend recycling, donating, and selling items you are no longer going to wear. Not only is it helpful to the environment, but it’s also a great way to jumpstart your minimalist wardrobe.

second hand zero waste fashion clothing essentials

I think you’ll be amazed by all the wardrobe essentials for women that you can pick up second hand! A lot of my stuff was found second hand, and I saved a lot of money.

Buying second hand is fabulous for the environment. Here’s a list of minimalist wardrobe clothing that is easier to find second-hand.

Denim– Right now jeans are often faded, cut, distressed and worn in bigger sizes, therefore it’s easier to find and fit.

Knitwear– If you can find natural fabrics like wool or 100% cotton, or even cashmere, these fabrics will last and still look great second hand.

T-shirts– Look for a color trend that will blend with the rest of your wardrobe.

Belts- These items can naturally withstand a few owners. I’ve had some luck finding belts that work great with the rest of my wardrobe.

It can sometimes be difficult to find exactly what you’re looking for when shopping second hand. So supporting fair trade and ethical clothing lines is essential for me. The next part of this post is all about sharing my favorite wardrobe staples!

wardrobe essentials for women

So, I’m really excited about this. Not only is it fun to shop for a few basic wardrobe staples, but it’s also exciting to come up with different outfits based on the few clothing items I have.

The best part is that most of the items go beautifully together, and you can create some fantastic zero waste fashion outfits just by being creative.

As you can see, I like neutrals with small pops of colors. You can choose any colors or combinations that work for you. Here are my favorites.

Click on the items that interest you to shop the websites. Also, be sure to check out my post 50 ethical and sustainable clothing brands for even more inspiration.

zero waste fashion tops & shirts

jackets & cardigans

dresses & jumpsuits

pants & jeans


other wardrobe staples

While I didn’t add any shoes, bathing suits, hats, belts, or accessories, those are all items you will want to add to your collection. You can completely transform an outfit by simply adding a belt or hat.

Remember, by having a minimalist wardrobe you are helping the environment, and you will have lots more space in your closet!

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  1. I COMPLETELY feel you on trying to avoid polyester secondhand. It’s my main obstacle. I take solace in the fact that capsule wardrobes encourage quality pieces, which are meant to last longer (and be super fly). I’ll keep looking for secondhand, but I won’t scold myself for treating myself to an ethically sourced and produced linen blouse–because that is so happening in my future.

  2. Yes – I am trying to minimise my wardrobe too. 18 may be far too small for me at the moment, but I agree on some of the secondhand items I own. Either I have spotted some ‘wear and tear’ issues or the fabrics annoy me.

  3. This makes me smile! I’ve given up plastic, I’ve got rid of my bin and I’ve embraced minimalism with open arms – but I still have a wardrobe completely rammed full of things! It makes no sense. It seems to be the easiest thing for everyone else yet I’ve struggled and struggled to let go. After countless efforts I set myself a goal to get down to 100 things. I thought that was reasonable. Then I passed it… probably to about 90. Until fairly recently I thought Project 333 was an impossible dream. But if you keep working and working (and working) towards something it does get easier. Maybe I’ll get to my capsule wardrobe after all! ; )

    Whilst you’ve got far less than me it’s reassuring to know that other people struggle with this, at least a little! I agree with your comments about second-hand vs new but fair trade, and damn polyester!

    Maybe we can spur each other on! : )

  4. I am with you on the dresser; I’ve waited 2 months to get a wardrobe in our new flat. Dressing from a suitcase is not fun, and such a mess! My capsule ranges from 30-40ish pieces altogether, and I think there is room for even less, but I find that if I reduce more, I would have less than 8 tops at my disposal, which means I will struggle with my goal to only wash once a week – because I run out of things to wear (like, literally). Otherwise I might try it 🙂

    1. Yes! Enough clothes for the week is very important. I don’t wash clothes until they stink. Washes only cause wear and tear. I think that’s how I’ve managed to keep a lot of my clothes for 8 years. But, I know it’s coming time to replace them soon.

  5. Glad I’m not the only minimalist who doesn’t do the capsule wardrobe! I like having almost all my clothes hung up in my closet so I can see what I have. Where I live it definitely gets snowy and cold in the winter and can get pretty hot in the summer, but overall I tend to wear the same clothes, just slightly adjusted with an extra layer if needed and the right footwear and outerwear. I think I have less an 30 items total- definitely a lot less than I used to! 🙂 anyway- I love your Instagram and am looking forward to reading your blog!

  6. Love this! I also appreciate that you will (on occasion) buy new. I have a few wish list items for my capsule (yup I use a capsule, kinda) that I just haven’t been able to track down secondhand. How do you feel about Eileen Fisher? They are a big company but they seem really invested in sustainable practices and their clothes are gorgeous.

  7. I love wardrobe minimalism! I did a huge purge to get to what I thought was my bare minimum. But just recently I whittled things down again. I’m going with 7 things in each category and am working on a big post about it. So fun!! 🙂

  8. I love your efforts towards becoming zero waste, it’s inspired me! I understand your feelings on polyester, too! How do you plan to dispose of clothing? This was a clean-out, so many nicer items can be donated, but for damaged clothes or shoes(!) what are your plans? Natural fibers can be shredded and composted, like lint. But what about synthetic? I guess you reuse the material for weaving projects! But what about shoes?? I’m sure the individual leather-rubber- cloth materials can be reused or recycled, but I have no idea where to begin!

    1. Thank you! The 18 piece is strictly experimental. I put a lot in storage for later. But you can use leftover fabric for rags or send it to fabric recycling where they recycle scraps. There’s a shoe buy back program that nike has. A lot of my shoes are cole haan which have nike soles. I also like to get my shoes repaired at the cobbler to extend their life. You can use the contact form on my blog to message me if you have any more questions!

  9. I’m glad to see I’m not the only one who doesn’t like the capsule wardrobe! Like Cutthefrills I also use my summer clothes in the winter, just with more layering. I live in Iceland, where the winters are not so terribly cold and the summers are not so warm, so…there is not so much difference in summer and winter wardrobe anyway ;)…

  10. love this. will you do a post (if you haven’t) with all the outfits you can create with your capsule wardrobe? 🙂

  11. Nice Post! Thanks for sharing this informative post. I found some great tips. These tips are definitely very useful. I am glad to found this helpful post and appreciate your effort. Thanks for sharing.